Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday Silliness - Muppets Chicken Song

We watched the 2011 Muppets last night, some cute's one to make you chicken lovers smile.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Kitty Garden

Our kitties are growing daily and are getting along better with Precious Baby Lamb. As they will soon be big enough to wander alone outside I decided to plant them a little patch to enjoy.

I pulled out the nasturtiums and calendula that were growing around the pond and had gone over, added some compost and planted two each of catnip and cat grass.

Hopefully by the time that the little ones are big ones these will be established for them to enjoy.

I also sowed some variegated sunflowers as the first seeds that I sowed never came up.

The pond is a real delight to me and my youngest as it is visited by so much wildlife each day. There are dragonflies, birds, frogs and other smaller critters there for him to study.

We do seem to have a leak though as within a day of being filled the water level sinks quite drastically.

I also heard today that we can use barley straw to control the algae growth in our pond so will be doing some research into where I can get this from.
The kitties went outside today for the first time and enjoyed the sunshine, the sand and the odd flying insect that buzzed around them.

I so enjoy having felines in the home again after all these years.....

Monday, November 19, 2012

A bowl of sunshine

 Our first marrows are in. This is such a lovely sight in the sunshine - bright yellow patty pans and golden squash.

To go along with dinner tonight I sliced them up with some white onion and gently fried them in some butter, a pinch of garlic and chilli.

Then I added some fresh Thyme, a can of cocount milk and salt and black pepper.

They were the star of the show!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Curing olives ~ a labor of love

Every year for the last 3 years I have cured olives for our home consumption. The first time I did it though it was helping a friend do her own stash and it was such fun and hers tasted so good a few months down the line that I had to try it myself. I eventually found a local farmer who would sell me 20kgs a year and so began the process.

Fresh raw olives

We can only get black mission olives from our farmer and while I used to always buy Calamata from the store, I have learnt to enjoy Black Mission now.

In the beginning I wonder why I put myself through this as I change the water each day for 2 weeks. It's a bother to drain the water and refill all these jars each day. For this process I only use tap water but later on I switch to spring water for the long wait.

Floating egg

So after 2 weeks of sitting in fresh water, changed everyday I switch them to brine. They sit in brine for up to 3 months which draws out the last bitterness and allows them to develop their flavor.

Figuring out the water to salt ratio is fun the first time but to get it right with each jar it becomes a bit long in the tooth as I end up pouring more and more salt into the water to get the egg to float.The floating egg indicates the right amount of salinity to the water which is the perfect brine ratio.

After about 3 months I rinse an olive or two from each 5 liter jar and taste it. They are very salty at this stage but what I am looking for is no bitter after taste. If they are not at this stage then they stay in the brine for a few more weeks. I taste again more or less every two weeks until they are salty, but bitter free.

Rosemary olives
Now is the fun time! Jar by jar I rinse the olives and put them back into the jars with a 1:3 ratio of wine vinegar/red wine/apple cider vinegar to water. I tried all three this time. Then to each jar I add about 10 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and whole.

I then add something different in the line of herb or spice. This years batches are one each of chilli and fennel seed. Another 2 jars received about 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary and still another 2 recieved handfulls of majoram. Another 2 were left with just garlic. I do not add salt to this last solution as the olives retain enough salt from the brining process.

Lastly I add a generous layer of locally produced olive oil called Olive Pickers. I could buy the cheaper imported stuff, but I like the flavour of this one.

They will now sit in the jars in a cupboard and be eaten over the next year until it is Autum 2013 when the process starts again.

In our home, olives are eaten daily as anytime snacks, used in breads and salads and this year I am very keen to make some tapenades...but we'll see.

Have you tried curing olives?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Summer ~ Sunburn ~ Salads

Yip...summer is here.  I took my first swim today so it must be summer. We have also taken our first doggie walk on the beach. This was a habit we got into last summer - early Sunday morning walks with the dogs. They love the freedom of the beach.
Today my son, daughter and I went on a wonderful homeschool outing to welcome in summer. A group of homeschoolers met up at a local marine reserve and spent the morning studying God's creation. It was neap tide so the rock pools were awesomely exposed for the young ones.

Anenomes of many colors

A cuttlefish graced us with its presence

Beautiful starfish and cushion stars were prolific
I thought I was prepared but I forgot our hats and we did not have enough protection for our arms and necks. My daughter and I are both sunburnt and I am not pleased at my mistake. I need to figure out what our modus operandi will be for summer in terms of sun protection.

Tonight's supper was a glorious one to enjoy the later sunset and freshly delivered produce from a new organic food supply that I am trying out to fill the gaps in my garden produce.

 Lovely small tomatoes sliced in half, partnered with mini mozarella balls and basil from the garden.

Drizzled with olive oil and basalmic vinegar.

 Thinly sliced baby marrows sprinkled with salt and pepper and drizzled olive oil. Grilled until brownish. Toss into a bowl and drizzle with a berry basalmic reduction.

Top with thinly sliced red onion from the garden.

 The fresh beetroot we recieved in our bag was boiled until soft then peeled under cold water.

Quartered and drizzled with olive oil, rosemary leaves, pressed garlic and some coarse salt.

Some lamb chops were tossed onto the gas BBQ and thoroughly enjoyed while the sunset.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Quick easy weekend chilli

Super quick easy supper's the recipe:

 2 - 3 avos
1 onion, 2 cloves garlic and some grated ginger
1 can organic red kidney beans
1 can organic chopped tomatoes
1kg mince (or less if you fam is smaller)
2 cups sweetcorn

Plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon cumin and 1 teaspoon chilli powder

 Brown the chopped onion, garlic and ginger

Add the mince and brown well.

Add the spices and mix in then add the tomatoes, corn and beans. (The point here is quick!)

Allow to simmer while you make the quesadillas.....
 1 packet of tortillas
2 cups grated cheese

Lightly oil a hot wide pan, place one tortilla in it and a handful of cheese spread over. Add another tortilla on top and press down. Flip after 2 - 3 mins and brown the other side. Do each pair in turn then slice into quarters.
Finish the meal with some homemade guacamole and some fresh yoghurt and chopped coriander.

Total prep time about 20 mins....Enjoyment eating it...pricelss :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Simply too much to do...

Homeschool convention season ended this weekend and with it, my last trip for the year for my business. It was a great weekend in Johannesburg and it is always a blessing to encourage other homeschool moms.

The double blessing is that each year when I go to JHB my business partner comes along. We get to see each other at this once a year event and share 3 days together catching up and good.

But then it's home again and seeing soooo much to do in the blossoming spring garden, the end of year need to finish school books, choir concerts, tennis tounaments, olives to be put into vinegar, a home to be decluttered and on it goes.

Weeds...weeds...weeds...I have decided to call my garden a mature garden on account of the weeds. We picked up a sticky weed through some horse manure and this horrible plant grows everywhere. So on Sunday afternoon when I got in from the airport I decided that there is no time like now and got stuck in.

Garlic was dug up as the leaves had turned yellow...a very dissappointing harvest I must have done something wrong! But we managed a plait and the ones that broke off are being used already.

Onions are being harvested and used daily...some bulbs are developed others are used as spring onions. I need to empty the bed soon for the next marrow planting.

Broad beans are in, these were the late crop planted mid-winter which should go until December. Then they will be pulled and tomatoes will go in. I sowed seed of 4 different heritage tomatoes for this bed which should be ready in 6 - 8 weeks.

Weeding between corn and tomato plants took most of the time on Sunday and things look promising all around.

 We have four broccoli plants left from the winter planting. I think my plan worked to confuse the bugs as I scattered broccoli around the garden in different places and we had a very successful harvest this year with no cabbage moth.
 Cucumbers are trailing their way up the trellises. I planted 4 different varieties but have forgotten which is which and I hope that I haven't messed up too much and that they will all be cross pollinated and a failure.

 Garlic chives doing well and yummy chopped into salads, quiches, frittata and other meals.
And our strawberries are coming in nicely. I see that we have bird visitors again as many have just one hole in them...I still use them like that - we just cut off the damaged part.

Last year I used old CD's to scare the birds away as they reflect in the sunlight and it worked well, so I had better rig that up again.

Even though there is soo much to do, I am glad that I can put away my bags and wrap up the year now...and there is nothing like being home!

Mmmh...East West Homes Best!